The Benson’s by Ava Nielsen

Crystal glasses, gold cutlery, and fine china plates of exotic food filled the table. The Benson family sat together, like they did every night, surrounded by the wealth their bleary eyes were blind to. Wealth was the needle and thread, a binding force for the Benson family. Sometimes splitting the weave of relationships, and sometimes dragging the red thread of a struggling bloodline to the next era. A cold silence settled over the six of them atop their plush chairs, with the occasional background music of a clink of metal on china or shuffle of unsettled feet. 

Conversation did not start until the third glass of wine. Their drinking habits matched the discussion of the evening; The Sauvignon Blanc parallel to the dry beginning, and the whiskey they ended with complimented an explosion of heat and sting that carried through the night, but always seemed to be forgotten in the morning. Tonight, however, there was more shuffling, more tight lips, and therefore, two extra bottles of wine on the table. The family consisted of a father, Charles, and mother, Catherine, Catherine’s mother, Crystalline, and the two children, Taft, and Clemance. All the children were in fact, not children at all, but incompetent twenty year olds who purely relied on their last name to pave a life for themselves. They gathered at the table at night and stared at the food and wine, and at the faces of people, they neither loved nor hated. Tonight was no different. Steak glistened on the table, red as a fresh wound. Each cup held an equal amount of wine as the family was careful not to let themselves fall drunker than the next, for fear of extreme vulnerability. Crystalline picked up her cup, a dinner ring the size of a golf ball hung vulgarly from her pointer finger. 

“Clemance, how are your studies of French going?” she ventured. 

“Quite well.” Clemence’s tone was sharp and cool.

Dominican University’s Online Literature & Arts Journal 


Crystalline nodded, her gaze following the faces in the room, looking for her next target. It was as if Clemence’s answer was so predictable she needn’t pay attention to it. “Taft darling, do you have any trips planned? I know you love your, uh, exploration.” Crystalline’s voice became dry as she searched for the right word. Taft had only been to India once, and the majority of his time there was spent in the courtyard of his hotel, sunbathing. But due to the fact that the Bensons’ lives were so miserably boring, a courtyard in India seemed to be a full world tour. 

“Yes, possibly Madrid. That is, if El Palacio has the suite available in June. The other rooms are small and cramped, and June is the only time to go.” 

              As Taft droned on, Catherines eyes began to scan the room for whiskey. She spotted a crystal decanter atop the drink stand and in her usual shaky manner, made her way over to it. “Whiskey?” she questioned. 

“Sure, why not,” Spoke Charles, her husband.

“It’s a Friday, for God’s sake let’s open it up.”, said Clemence. 

This very discussion arose every night, and each night the answers made it seem that that particular night was unlike another, one to be celebrated, even though each member knew well and good that the focal point of every evening was that decanter of whiskey. Each glass was poured and each family member took a long sip. 

As the night went on, small smiles began playing on the thin lips of the family and shuffling became stifled laughs. The container became lower and lower, caramel liquid slurped and swished creating delusion stories and heavy eyelids. Taft was the first to go. His head hit heavy on the table as he slouched over from the waist from intoxication. Each member after him,

Catherine, Charles, Clemency, and Crystalline slumped as well, as they did every night before that. 

She picked each doll up from the table, and laid them in their respectable beds. “There you go Clemence, sleep till morning.” 

The dolls laid limp between cotton sheets, unaware of the stories written for them.